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Italian Sausage and Kale Soup

If you’re looking for a creamy, rich and flavorful soup, try this Italian Sausage Kale Soup. It’s a lightened up version of an Olive Garden Classic and crowd favorite, Zuppa Toscana.

Creating This Sausage Kale Soup Recipe

This Italian Sausage Kale Soup recipe probably looks and sounds pretty familiar. Copycat versions of Olive Garden’s Zuppa Toscana have been floating around the web for years. And it has always been a favorite soup of ours to make at home.

In the last 10 years since I began making this recipe, it has had its fair share of variations and changes according to our preferences, or what ingredients we have on had in the fridge.

One change from the typical Zuppa Toscana recipe is that I have started to use less half and half and more broth to lighten the recipe up a little. This Italian Sausage and Kale Soup is still plenty creamy and offers plenty of flavor and richness with fewer calories.

Another simple change that I’ve made is to incorporate some extra vegetables in the form of red bell peppers. I love the pop of color that the bell peppers offer as well as the fact that the soup has some extra veggies in it. 

So it isn’t exactly like that Copycat Olive Garden Toscana Soup recipe that I first discovered years ago and was so excited to make at home, but we still love it. Even if it is a tad healthier, it still tastes rich to me.

When my sister lived with us a few years ago, I made this lightened up Zuppa Toscana Italian Sausage Kale Soup for her the night she arrived in Colorado. I would laugh every time she asked for it during the 9 months she was living with us in Colorado because it was still such a novelty to her.

Over the years Italian Sausage Kale Soup has become an old favorite standby recipe in our home. Allie just finished visiting us for Thanksgiving and brought it up the other day.

Allie said, “I love everything you cook. I don’t think you’ve ever made anything that was bad. But, do you know what my favorite recipes are that you make?”

This recipe for Italian Sausage and Kale Soup was at the very top of her list. Her other favorites were the Pumpkin Pie Oatmeal and Honey Mustard Chicken. I love that some of the recipes that have become family favorites are recipes that I’ve made.

I almost always have all of the ingredients in my homemade version of Zuppa Toscana on hand, and it isn’t complicated or labor intensive to prepare. Perfect for busy weeknights or lazy weekends!

Most often I don’t really need the recipe anymore. It doesn’t always turn out exactly the same every single time, but Italian Sausage Kale Soup always tastes good regardless if there is more kale than normal.

Italian Sausage Kale Soup in two white bowls

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Sausage Kale Soup Ingredients

This is an easy soup recipe that requires very few ingredients. Here’s what you’ll need to make this copycat Olive Garden Zuppa Toscana recipe:

  • Mild or sweet Italian sausage
  • Olive oil
  • Yellow onion
  • Red bell pepper
  • Garlic
  • Red potatoes
  • Chicken broth
  • Half and half
  • Kale
  • Salt and pepper

How to Make Sausage Kale Soup

To make this copycat Olive Garden Zuppa Toscana soup, you’ll first need to brown the sliced Italian sausage in a hot skillet. Once browned, slice the sausage.

In a large soup pot, sauté the onion in a drizzle of olive oil. Add the bell pepper and garlic and continue cooking until fragrant. Add the rest of the ingredients to the pot except the kale and cook until the potatoes reach your desired level of doneness. Stir in the kale and cook until just wilted.

Creamy and tangy just like the original, this sausage kale soup is delicious poured over a big bowl of salad greens, topped with red onion, black olives, Roma tomato, pepperoncini, and your favorite croutons.

copycat Olive Garden Zuppa Toscana in white bowls

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What to Serve with Sausage Kale Soup

If you’re looking for another great Olive Garden Copycat recipe, you might like to try the Olive Garden Salad with Olive Garden Salad Dressing. It pairs nicely with this sausage potato kale soup and is another family favorite!

You could also pair this Italian sausage kale soup with a loaf of crusty Rosemary Garlic Bread. There are lots of veggies in the soup, so there’s no need to make an elaborate side to go with it!

Can I Use a Half and Half Substitute?

I’ve only made this recipe with half and half, but I imagine you could use whole milk in this copycat Olive Garden Zuppa Toscana as well. I wouldn’t recommend using 2% or skim milk in this recipe, as the soup wouldn’t be creamy enough.

If you want your soup to be even richer, you can substitute heavy cream. Personally, I prefer to use half and half in this Sausage Kale Soup recipe. It is rich without being too rich.

Can I Freeze Sausage Kale Soup?

I wouldn’t recommend doing so, no. Soups with a dairy base typically don’t freeze well. You’ll want to enjoy this soup within a week of making it.

Tips for Making Sausage Kale Soup

If you like your soups to have a strong garlic flavor, add a little garlic powder to the sausage kale soup in addition to the fresh garlic.

Also, if you don’t have kale on hand you’re welcome to use spinach or another leafy green. This is a fairly flexible recipe and you can throw in an array of vegetables to bulk it up.

If you need a vegetarian soup, you can omit the sausage, sub the chicken broth for vegetable broth and increase the vegetables. You could also try adding some sautéed mushrooms to the mix to give this soup a meaty flavor.

More Easy Soup Recipes:

My family loves this Cheesy Chicken Enchilada Chili. Chicken, corn, and black beans simmer in an enchilada-flavored chili base that’s hard to resist!

If you like Panera’s broccoli cheese soup, you’ll love this Cheesy Broccoli, Kale, Carrot Soup. It’s incredibly easy to make and is the perfect soup to warm you up on cold days.

Short on time? This Slow Cooker Ham Soup takes just 15 minutes to prepare, then the slow cooker does all the work for you. Prep it before going to work, then enjoy a bowl once you’re back home!

Italian sausage lovers will adore this Italian Sausage Orzo Soup. It’s a chunky, hearty soup and pairs nicely with crusty bread.

This Pumpkin Black Bean Turkey Chili is made with a whole can of pumpkin, which makes it ultra thick and almost stew-like. Serve it over cornbread for a truly fantastic meal.

What are your favorite tried and true standby recipes?

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Italian Sausage Kale Soup

Italian Sausage Kale Soup

Yield: 4 to 6 servings
Prep Time: 10 minutes
Cook Time: 35 minutes
Total Time: 45 minutes

If you're looking for a creamy, rich and flavorful soup, try this Italian Sausage Kale Soup. It's a lightened up version of Olive Garden's Zuppa Toscana.

Ingredients

  • 18 ounces Mild or Sweet Italian Sausage
  • 1 tablespoon olive oil
  • 1 medium yellow onion, diced
  • 2 red bell peppers, chopped
  • 3 cloves minced garlic
  • 1/2 - 1 teaspoon garlic powder, optional - if you like garlic!
  • 8 - 10 red potatoes, cut into approx. 1 inch cubes
  • 5 cups Chicken Broth
  • 3 cups half and half
  • 1 - 2 bunches kale, chopped
  • Salt and Pepper, to taste

Instructions

    1. In a cast iron skillet or sauté pan, brown the Italian sausage in the casings.
    2. Once they are browned on all sides and cooked through, transfer them to a cutting board and let rest until cool enough to handle without burning your hands. Once they are cool enough to handle, slice into rounds between 1/4 - 1/2 inch thick (depending on your preference).
    3. Heat the olive oil in a large soup pot. Add the onion and sauté for 5-7 minutes over medium heat, or until tender and golden.
    4. Add the bell pepper and garlic and sauté for a couple more minutes, until fragrant.
    5. To the same pot, add the potatoes, broth, half and half, and sausage. Cook over medium high heat and bring to a boil. Decrease the temperature to medium-low to low and simmer until the potatoes reach your desired tenderness - approximately 15 - 20 minutes. Season to taste with salt and pepper.
    6. Stir in the chopped kale and cook until just wilted.
    7. Serve immediately and top with freshly grated parmesan, if desired.

Notes

The great thing about recipes like this is you can always change them up according to your preference.

If you don't like kale, you can try swiss chard. If you want more (or less) potatoes, you can adjust that too.

If you need a vegetarian soup, you can omit the sausage, sub the chicken broth for vegetable broth and increase the vegetables. Maybe you really like mushrooms, you could try adding some sautéed mushrooms to the mix.

Nutrition Information
Yield 4 Serving Size 1
Amount Per Serving Calories 1179Total Fat 35gSaturated Fat 18gTrans Fat 1gUnsaturated Fat 16gCholesterol 108mgSodium 2174mgCarbohydrates 171gFiber 16gSugar 24gProtein 48g

GoodLifeEats.com offers recipe nutritional information as a courtesy and is an estimate only. This information comes from online calculators. Although GoodLifeEats.com makes every effort to provide accurate information, these figures are only estimates.

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Morgan Greenwood

Thursday 26th of December 2013

If you're looking to cut the calories, use milk instead of half and half, and then use an immersion blender to cream the potatoes, onions and garlic. Add the peppers, sausage and kale (after sauteeing peppers + sausage), and you have an incredibly creamy soup with waaaay fewer calories!

Erin

Wednesday 13th of March 2013

Oh my! I just served this for dinner and it was fabulous. Thank you so much for the recipe. I'll be tucking this one away for future uses. Like other posts, I used a combination of milk and heavy cream instead of half and half because that's what I had in the fridge.

Karen

Sunday 24th of February 2013

I have made a copycat recipe for years that uses 8 cups of chix broth and 1 cup of 1/2 and 1/2. I liked the above recipe but found the red peppers really changed the flavor from the original olive garden zuppa toscana. Omit the red peppers and it will taste more like the original. They also add crushed red pepper to original recipe, so I always add 1 tsp. crushed red pepper or 1 1/2 tsp. if I want a bit of zip to it. You really have to add salt to make it taste original. Olive Gardens of course has alot of salt added. Not good for our health but good for our tummy!!

Shari

Monday 18th of February 2013

This was great! Everyone loved it. I used heavy cream instead of 1/2 & 1/2. The sprinkling of Parmesan cheese at the end made it over the top!

Emily

Monday 18th of February 2013

This sounds yummy and can easily adaptable for what's in the kitchen... I'm going to give this a whirl tonight except sub coconut milk for 1/2 and 1/2 for us lactose intolerant folks in my house :) Looking forward to giving it a shot!